INSIGHT-War-scarred Ivory Coast aims to conquer the world of cashews
* Ivorian cashew output growing by over 10 pct annually
* Country now world's biggest exporter
* Seeking to develop a processing sector, creating jobs
* Must overcome a host of obstacles first
By Joe Bavier
BONDOUKOU, Ivory Coast, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Forty years ago, Henri Kouakou was struggling to support his family farming a small plot outside Bondoukou, a dusty town in northeastern Ivory Coast, when he first learned that money did, in fact, grow on trees -- cashew trees.
"I was raising yams back then and wasn't earning enough. I heard people talking about a new tree you could make money growing," he said, strolling through his plantation beneath a canopy of cashew tree branches.
By his own reckoning, Kouakou, among the earliest pioneers of the Ivorian cashew sector, is nearly 100 years old. He has seen the nuts, initially planted in the 1970s to combat desertification, emerge as an important cash crop for the West African nation's impoverished north.
And with output growing by over 10 percent annually -- attracting the attention of a government desperate to jump-start its economy after a decade of war and political chaos -- he will likely live to see his country dominate the world market. Continuación...